Contesting the 2G-scam findings of the comptroller and auditor general (CAG), information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari has asked it to clear its stand and challenged it to an open public debate.
Reacting to the statement of former CAG official RP Singh that he was under pressure when he signed the audit report suggesting a presumptive loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of the 2G spectrum for mobile communication, Tewari said the issue born out of it had created an atmosphere of pessimism and distrust in India.
Tewari, who addressed the media on Saturday at the Press Club here, said the issue raised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2010 had wiped out an entire parliament session in November that year, but "now the CAG should clarify its stance on the controversy". "Let there be a public debate," he said. "Let the CAG come out and answer because these sensational figures have derailed the Indian growth plan in the past two years."
"Even the Public accounts committee (PAC) chief, Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP, should clarify his stance on losses mentioned in the CAG draft report," the minister said. RP Singh, former director general in the CAG's post and telecommunications wing, had said that his seniors had made him sign the 2G-spectrum auction audit report, even though he disagreed with it. RP Singh retired in September 2011.
He questioned why in May 2010 (when the draft report was prepared), the loss was quantified at Rs. 2,645 crore but in November 2010 (when the report was presented in Parliament) exaggerated to Rs. 1.76 lakh crore. "How did this leap of faith take place?" he said. "The confused public has the right to know."
Replying to a query about the plans to check monopolies in the cable television sector, Tewari said his ministry had requested the telecom regulator for help in this task. "We hope to do it soon," he said.
Criticising the Punjab government over the misuse of welfare money coming in from the Centre, Tewari said in his own constituency (Ludhiana), Rs. 50 crore released to the state authorities to clean the Buddha Nullah had disappeared.
Accepting the mistakes that cost his party a comeback to power in Punjab, he said it now hoped make amends in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014.